The rising number of humanitarian disasters and armed conflicts around the world has placed an increased burden on international aid organisations. The Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA) was established to meet these challenges. Improved cooperation and coordination between NGOs enables them to better respond to major international crises in a timely and effective manner. The DRA members collaborate in humanitarian interventions – delivering greater impact than members operating independently. The DRA focuses on 4 pillars: innovation, localisation, accountability and collaboration.
The Dutch Relief Alliance brings Dutch NGOs to the forefront of innovation for humanitarian action. Current approaches to innovation often fail to achieve impact at scale due to a lack of resources for research and development, the development of solutions in isolation and missed chances to share successes. To tackle these challenges, the DRA stimulates innovation and continuous learning across organizational structures through working with networks for innovation and learning.
Two important partners in this are the Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation (DCHI) and the Platform for Humanitarian Knowledge exchange in the Netherlands (KUNO). To determine what the innovation hubs need to focus on, the Joint Responses, together with the affected communities, help identify innovation needs and later on in the process also serve as an operation testbed for innovative approaches.
Wherever possible humanitarian action should be locally led with national and local governments fulfilling their responsibility to assist and protect their own citizens and national civil societies, holding governments to account and filling gaps in responses. Local actors hold specific capacities such as contextual knowledge and in-country networks which carry the potential to greatly enhance the effectiveness and impact of humanitarian responses. Therefore, the Dutch Relief Alliance actively works towards a stronger position for local actors in humanitarian aid.
An increasing percentage of funding flows directly to local actors with the aim of reaching 35% by 2021. The effectiveness of the funding is being increased through the minimization of transaction costs and by ensuring funds flow as directly as possible to local actors whilst upholding quality, strong risk management structures and accountability structures. The Dutch Relief Alliance puts emphasis on capacity strengthening of local partners and amplifies local voices in international fora, coordination systems and with other donors. Moreover, to ensure better partnerships with local actors the Dutch Relief Alliance continuously innovates ways to support partners in conflict through remote managing, risk-sharing and monitoring, negotiating and maintaining access.
The DRA strives for maximum accountability to disaster affected populations, to governments, to civil societies and to Dutch taxpayers. To strengthen mechanisms for participation, feedback and accountability to crisis-affected people the Dutch Relief Alliance utilizes the potential of growing digital connectivity and big data. All DRA members are committed to the Core Humanitarian Standard and there is a particular focus on ensuring the participation of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups. Hence, all responses are also designed in a gender sensitive way and where possible, the Joint Responses strengthen local initiatives to advance gender equality and transform gender relations.
For international humanitarian action to be successfully sustained, continuous support from donor countries is required. The DRA has an important role in ensuring that the Dutch public and office holders understand, support and engage with humanitarian action. Therefore, challenges and successes of the Joint Responses are being communicated via digital channels as well as public events. The DRA also entertains a close relationship with members of the Dutch Parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This way the DRA informs of the humanitarian realities and upholds high transparency standards towards the Ministry via audits, evaluations, regular reporting and meetings and quarterly updates of the IATI database.
The 15 members of the Dutch Relief alliance work together at field level to implement life-saving humanitarian programs. Instead of competing for funding or working in isolation, our members come together and use their different mandates and set-ups to design a humanitarian response in a difficult context with shared goals and objectives. The members are best able to respond in the respective context to implement the Joint Response. By working together and utilizing the strength of collaborative impact, the Dutch Relief Alliance is able to create a more timely, efficient humanitarian response with higher impact for those in need.